Quenelles! aka Puréed Fish or Poultry Dumplings

A Quenelle is a classic item in French cuisine, and there are a number of ways of preparing them. Recipes for Quenelles Lyonnaise call for Pâte à Choux (Choux Pastry–what you use to make Cream Puffs). Here’s a link to the Julia Child version. Recipes for Quenelles Mousseline call for egg whites (whipped or not) and heavy cream. I’m concentrating here on variations of Quenelles Mousseline. They are not difficuit to prepare, and they keep well. As a matter of fact, the classic recipes call for chilling the cooked quenelles and reheating them in a sauce!

  • This website gives great step-by-step instructions: Click HERE.
  • Jacques Pepin provides a good, simple version: Click HERE. [Note that you should add the egg white after the fish/poultry has been puréed and before you add the heavy cream. The recipe omits this step!] You can vary the recipe by whisking the egg white to soft peaks and folding them into the puréed fish/poultry/cream mixture as a last step.

I’ve made quenelles successfully with cod, cod blended with shrimp, grey sole, tilapia, and chicken breast.


  • Do keep all ingredients cold! And do refrigerate the finished mixture for at least an hour before poaching or steaming the quenelles.
  • The poaching secret: The water must be kept at or just below a simmer!!  This is really important!! If the water is too hot the quenelles get tough. They will also get tough if you cook them too long.
  • You don’t really have to make a fancy stock for poaching. I often just use canned chicken stock and save the used poaching stock to use as a soup base.
  • I like to add a pinch of nutmeg, especially when making the fish versions.
  • They are great with a quick tomato and basil sauce or with all kinds of flavors of Bechamel.
  • What to do with the extra egg yolk? Make a Hollandaise Sauce! It goes really well with fish quenelles. Here is Ina Garten’s wonderful recipe for making a one-yolk Hollandaise. You could also save it to mix in with your next batch of mashed potatos.

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